Le Manteau de la Vierge by Hantai

Inventory Number: 23243

Simon Hantai (1922-2008); Le Manteau de la Vierge; olio su tela; 1960; Musei Vaticani; Palazzi Apostolici Vaticani; Collezione di Arte Religiosa Moderna


Simon Hantai was born December 7, 1922 in Bia, Hungary. From his studies at the Budapest School of Fine Arts he delved into the Surrealist Movement, befriending André Breton who wrote the preface to his first exhibition catalogue in Paris. In 1955 Hantaï broke with the surrealist group over Breton’s refusal to accept any similarity between the surrealist technique of automatic writing and Jackson Pollock’s method of action painting. In 1960, Hantaï developed his technique of “pliage” (folding); the canvas is folded and scrunched then doused with colour and unfolded, leaving apparent blank sections of the canvas interrupted by vibrant splashes of colour. “The pliage developed out of nothing.” Hantai explained. “It was necessary to simply put myself in the place of someone who had seen nothing… in the place of the canvas. You could fill the folded canvas without knowing where the edge was. You don’t know where things stop. You could even go further, and paint with your eyes closed”. The Manteau de la Vierge was completed with this technique and belongs to the Mariales series.

A retrospective of his work was held at the Centre Pompidou in 1976, and in 1982 he represented France at the Venice Biennale. A representative collection of Hantaï’s works is held at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. This piece is expected to return on display after a brief time in storage.